Lots to do, plenty to see
A holiday in Ireland offers something different with a variety of local and national events and festivals and major sporting events held in its many towns and cities throughout the year.
St Patrick's Festival
Ireland has many festivals, most of which take place annually. The most famous by far is the St Patrick's Festival which takes place in every county all over Ireland and celebrates Irish culture the world over. Although St. Patrick's Day festivals are held all over the world on 17 March, the festival in Ireland lasts over a week, and includes the parades on the 17 as well as the Skyfest celebrations, a fireworks display held somewhere different in Ireland every year.
Part of the celebrations include Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Week), which aims to promote the Irish language during the two weeks proceeding the festival. The parade in Dublin is the focal point of the festival, with over 500,000 people attending it.
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship & All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
For Irish people, probably the most celebrated sporting events are the annual finals of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship and the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. These matches, normally held around the middle of September, are normally fully sold out, with well over 80,000 people packed into Croke Park, the largest stadium in Europe not used primarily for football.
Rose of Tralee
Another festival that celebrates the Irish Culture and Diaspora all over the world is the Rose of Tralee. This international competition, which is celebrated among the Irish communities all over the world, is held annually in the town of Tralee in County Kerry. The winner is picked based on her personality and her ability to be a good role model for the festival and for Ireland during her travels around the world. Unlike other pageants, the competitors are not judged on their appearance nor their body. One of the only rules of the competition is that the potential roses have to have an Irish ancestry.
Image: Events in Ireland
The Galway Races
The Galway Races is an Irish horse racing festival that starts on the last Monday of July every year. Traditionally the busiest days of the races are the Thursday, when the Galway Hurdle and ladies day take place. It is famous throughout the world for being one of the world's biggest race meetings. It is estimated that over the week-long festival, 150,000 people attend the event.
Galway International Oyster Festival
The Galway International Oyster Festival is another popular festival held in the City of Galway. Over the years it has won many prestigious awards and titles including 'one of the 12 greatest shows on earth' by the Sunday Times, and was listed in the AA Travel Guide as one of Europe's Seven Best Festivals, on par with the Munich Beer Festival.
Electric Picnic is another popular music festival held in Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, County Laois every year since 2004. It was voted Best Medium-Sized European Festival at the 2010 European Festival Awards. Compared to other major music festivals, there is more emphasis on quality festival services such as food and sleeping arrangements. Rolling Stone Magazine stated it was one of the best festivals they had ever been to.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is one of the oldest festivals in the country, originally started in 1892. Held over the month of September every year, the festival attracts between 20,000 and 40,000 romantic hopefuls, coming from all over the world to take part in the events. In recent years the festival has become particularly popular with tourists from the Far East and the festival has evolved to become the biggest matchmaking festival in Europe.
The Galway Arts Festival
The Galway Arts Festival is an annual arts festival that takes place each July in Galway City. It is an international celebration of the performing and visual arts and an important showcase for the Irish arts. Every year around 150,000 people attend the event annually. Founded in 1978, the festival continues to grow as a major attraction for national and international visitors.